12 December 2002 | telegonus
Fuller At Large
Directed by Adam Simon, this movie tells of the life and career of maverick film-maker Sam Fuller, who was alive and well when it was made, and offers hilarious insights into the business of moviemaking in the twilight of the studio era. A former newspaper reporter and pulp novelist, Fuller's colorful background gave him a lot of material to work with in his film-making ventures, and he made the most of it. A charming, gifted, unpretentious man, Fuller is himself the best thing in the picture, and I wish there were more of him. Various contemporary film-makers, from Jim Jarmusch to Quentin Tarantino, weigh in periodically with their own insights into Fuller's strange genius. None of them quite captures the essence of the man.
Fuller's work is a violent, often cartoonish exploration of the dark side of the American experience. His movies are visually striking, extremely melodramatic, often punchy, and seldom take themselves too seriously. The director's good humor is very much in evidence in his interviews, less so in his films. Worldly and self-educated, Fuller was one of the last of a dying breed: the self-educated artist, with no ties to any ideology or aesthetic program, who does as he pleases. Nowadays, with words like "outrageous" and "subversive" enshrined in every art and film school, and in every creative writing program, movies that take on one aspect or another of the so-called straight world are a dime a dozen, and shown regularly on independent film channels. Non-conformity has become a generic fashion among contemporary artists, as one expects young film-makers to have some sort of "radical vision". In Fuller we see the real deal: a man who lived on the fringes of respectability all his adult life, for whom the surreal and the offbeat are as natural as breathing. His non-conformity and empathy for the underdog comes from life, not some aesthetic program he's working on, and his movies,--bizarre, cheap, over the top, often brilliant--have the ring of truth to them. A fascinating individual, this film is picture is a marvelous introduction to the man and his work.